All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
– Edmund Burke
The final count has arrived. The Stand Up for Religious Freedom rallies on March 23 attracted over 63,000 Americans in over 140 cities – more than six times the initial estimates of participation. The rallies hosted 24 Catholic bishops and several public figures, such as Dr. Alveda King, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), and Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), as speakers.
The nationwide rallies called attention to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate, which requires most religious employers to offer their employees “free contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of any moral or religious objections.”
Although the HHS mandate contains a “religious exemption,” many institutions, such as Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities are excluded from this exception. In other words, the mandate will affect the following religious institutions:
- 7,589 U.S. Catholic elementary and high schools, which educate over 2.5 million enrolled students.
- 221 U.S. Catholic colleges, which instruct over 720,000 students.
- 615 U.S. Catholic hospitals, which account for over 15.5% of all hospital admissions, serving 15.4 million emergency room visits and more than 86 million outpatient visits (2005).
- Catholic Charities Network, which aids over 6 million (2003).
- Catholic Relief Services, which reaches out to 80 million in 99 countries (2002).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church details why providing contraception violates religious freedom for Catholics: “contraception offends against the openness to procreation required of marriage and also the inner truth of conjugal love (2370).” As Pope Paul VI explains in Humanae Vitae, contraception translates into rising marital infidelity, lower moral standards, and increased viewing of women as “mere instrument[s] of selfish enjoyment.”
Politicians, such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), blame the HHS mandate’s opposition for waging a “War on Women.” However, the female participants I spoke with at the 2,000-strong D.C. rally declared that this instead is a war attacking religious liberty and natural law.
Lila Rose, Live Action President, and Students for Life’s Kristan Hawkins suggest the HHS mandate itself wages the real war on women – on their religion and consciences. The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, clarifies, “We’ve grown hoarse saying this is not about contraception, this is about religious freedom.”
British statesman and theorist Edmund Burke proclaimed that evil triumphs when good men do nothing. However, when good men do nothing, they have lost their goodness—to be good men, we must be willing to recognize evil when it threatens us and to fight the good fight to defeat it.
Fellow fighters for religious freedom, we must remind the world we are not dead. We are a sleeping giant arising from a deep slumber. We are a people fighting for the liberty that has been the bedrock of our country’s growth and prosperity—a people ensuring the legacy of good men.